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Plastic Wise

As of 1 January 2019 City of Darwin will ban single use plastics from all events held on Council land including markets.

It's time to say NO to single use plastics. Going plastic free, reducing your waste and environmental impact is easier than you think. In some cases it will even save you money rather than costing the earth. 

City of Darwin has made changes to the types of disposable items that can be used at events on council land and at Darwin’s markets. These changes have been implemented to reduce the amount of single use plastic used and protect Darwin’s unique environment.

Download "Your guide to making the switch from single use disposable plastic" booklet

What are the changes?

Single use plastic items including disposable coffee cups, smoothie cups, lids, straws, cutlery, stirrers, plates, bowls, and takeaway containers will all be phased out from use on council land from 1 January 2019. This will include a ban on any  deliberate release of helium balloons.

Council permits and leases will reflect these changes as conditions of hire from January onwards.

City of Darwin considers the environmental impacts of those using council land, and aims to engage businesses and organisations that demonstrate environmentally sustainable practices.

What are single use plastics?

  • Disposable cups (coffee and cold) and lids
  • Cutlery (and stirrers)
  • Plates and bowls
  • Takeaway containers
  • Straws
  • Balloons

Single use plastics are disposable items that are typically used once for a few minutes before being thrown away, such as straws, disposable cups, and containers.

Single use plastics are made from oil and put pressure on our earth’s valuable resources while creating unnecessary waste. These items are commonly found as litter and are a significant part of the pollution being swept into our waterways and  oceans. There, they partially degrade, harming marine life and affecting human health.

What can I do?

  1. Bring reusable containers for food and drink as well as your carry bags
  2. If you purchase takeaway coffee or food, you may want to invest in a BYO (Bring Your Own) kit of reusable, washable cup, container, straw and cutlery
  3. Encourage others to BYO and share your tips and tricks on what to use and do instead
  4. If you forgot your BYO find a stall that has reusable plates, or head to the community wash hub to borrow one
  5. Check if the stall you’re buying from uses compostable items
  6. Ask your local takeaway outlet if they use compostable items
  7. If you’re organising an event – make it plastic free!
  8. Identify places that discount coffee or meals when you BYO

Why go plastic free?

Plastic becomes litter and never goes away, it just breaks down into smaller pieces.
Plastics use precious resources. Most plastics are made from crude oil and other chemicals.
Plastics harm the environment and local wildlife.
It can be cheaper to go plastic free – and it won’t cost the Earth.

It's time to say no to single use plastic

Seven reasons to switch (from single use plastic)

  1. It’s easier than you think
  2. Plastics use up nonrenewable resources
  3. Plastics fill our world with litter that doesn’t go away
  4. Plastics end up as microplastics in our food chain
  5. Plastics harm animals and the environment
  6. It makes you feel good doing the right thing
  7. There are many alternatives so get creative with your BYO!


What are single use plastics?

Single use plastics are disposable items that are typically used once for a few minutes before being thrown away. These products are made from oil and are used for packaging or consuming food and drink. They include straws, disposable cups, plates, cutlery, containers, food wrappers, balloons and disposable coffee cups.

Can customers legally bring their own containers?

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) does not set down any regulations about customers bringing their own containers when purchasing food. Most businesses happily accept a BYO container to save them money. However, if you bring dirty or unhygienic container businesses have the right to refuse to use it.

What is bioplastic? And, is it any better?

Bioplastic is a substance made from organic sources, unlike conventional plastic, which is made from petroleum. Bioplastic contains vegetable oils, cellulose and starches.
Some biodegradable bioplastics can break down in 180 days, given the right conditions. Others are not biodegradable at all. City of Darwin is banning plastics from council land that are nondegradable in both fossil-based and bio-based categories. If a compostable option (cardboard, wood, plant material) cannot be found for your product then a bioplastic may be used. The bioplastic must be bio-based and biodegradable - fitting into the overlapping green and blue area of the graphic.

Won’t the alternative products just go to landfill anyway?

City of Darwin has plans for a commercial composting facility that will deal with compostable waste from our marketplaces, homes and businesses.

Don’t biodegradable products melt and disintegrate in our hot and humid climate?

Technology around biodegradable and compostable products is constantly evolving. Many products these days are well suited to a variety of conditions and uses.

What are Darwin’s usual smoothie and coffee cups made from?

These are made from cardboard (corrugated or double layered for hot liquids and single layered for cold) and are lined with a thin layer of plastic. This plastic layer and the lids are made from petroleum.

Can smoothie and coffee cups be recycled in Darwin?

Smoothie and coffee cups are not currently recyclable in Darwin. If large numbers of these are found in the recycling stream, the whole load must be taken to landfill.

Where can I purchase reusable or environmentally friendly single use containers?

City of Darwin has been working with local distributors and businesses to ensure that there is ample supply of appropriate packaging available for purchase. We want to ensure that putting these changes into practice is easy, affordable and achievable for everyone. Check out suppliers such as Vegware, Biopak or Earthens for a product that suits you.

By what date must businesses have made the switch away from single use packaging?

Market stalls will start transitioning away from single use plastic from 1 January 2019. Many stalls have already made the switch and are using environmentally friendly compostable products. Using up current stock for some businesses may take a few weeks, however well before the end of 2019 it is envisaged our markets will be single use plastic free!

Product guide

Where possible, accept BYO and reusable containers. The table below contains some recommended products:

Product Preferred option Alternative option
Cups and lids Paper / PLA* lined PLA*
Ice-cream cups Edible Paper / PLA* lined
Cutlery Bamboo / wood PLA*
Straws Paper PLA*

Hot food

Paper bags Paper Paper lined with PLA*
Containers Biocane Paper lined with PLA*
Plates and bowls Palm leaf / Bamboo / paper Biocane / paper lined

Cold Food

Containers Cardboard unlined Cardboard lined with PLA*

*PLA is a bioplastic made from plants not crude oil

Compostable or reusable?

Reducing the waste Darwin produces and diverting it from landfill is a high priority for City of Darwin.

Avoiding packaging altogether is always the preferred option. Reusable containers are one way to achieve this, so BYO today.

Didn’t realise you were going to pop in to the markets? Didn’t bring a container? That’s ok. This is why having compostable disposable alternatives is important.

One recent Darwin market waste audit revealed the following items:

City of Darwin believes that reusing our waste and diverting it from landfill is an environmentally sustainable change.

What else can I use?

Anything fully compostable is ok! There are a whole range of alternatives available that are kinder to our environment - think paper, bamboo, sugarcane, wood and palm leaf. These, plus some PLA bioplastics, are all compostable so are better for the planet.

Check out suppliers such as Vegware, Biopak or Earthens for a product that suits you.

Local distributors are stocking these items so chat to them today about what you need.

More Information

For more information on going plastic free reducing your waste and environmental impact contact the Climate Change and Environment Team.

08 8930 0629

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